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Fort Laramie National Historic Site (Aka Fort William Aka Fort John)

Fort Laramie National Historic Site




Location: Goshen County  Map

Former Names: Fort William, Fort John

Area: 833 acres (3.37 km2)

Found: 1830s




Description of Fort Laramie National Historic Site

Fort Laramie National Historic Site that is also known as Fort William or Fort John is situated in Goshen County of Wyoming. Fort Laramie National Historic Site covers an area of 833 acres (3.37 km2) and protects ruins of the historic American fortress that was originally found here in 1830's. Fort Laramie was founded as Fort William and later became known as Fort John. It was erected on a strategic location at the confluence of the North Platte River and Laramie River, that also gave its modern day name. Fort Laramie was established to protect trade routes from the attacks of Native tribes that harrased fur traders. Later it became an important site as a trading post and diplomatic center for relations with the native tribes. During massive relocation of the European settlers along the Oregon Trail Fort Laramie became an important stop along the way.




After the completion of the transcontinental railroad, the fort's importance gradually decreased. Fewer wagon trains journeyed west, and regional Amerindians had been largely subdued. The fort was decommissioned in 1890. The original abandonment order was issued in 1889, and four of the infantry companies stationed there at that time went to Fort Logan, near Denver, Colorado that fall.

In March 1890, about 30 cavalry soldiers and civilian mechanics under the command of Lt. C. W. Taylor arrived at the fort and removed doors, windows, flooring, and any other material from the buildings that was thought to be of value to the government. The last soldiers left Fort Laramie on April 20, 1890. All but one of the structures were sold at auction to private citizens. The entire military reservation, which was nine miles long and six miles wide, was opened up to homesteaders for settlement on October 5, 1891.

Historic district
In a 1983 document, the National Park Service describes a 536-acre historic district within the larger national historic site containing all of the historic structures, buildings, ruins, and sites, as well as a separate area containing a bridge. The NPS identified 36 significant physical remains that provide the background for the events and the people associated with Fort Laramie. These included 13 standing buildings, 11 standing ruins, and several buildings where only the foundations remain.





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